Coronavirus Daily Update: Testing Remains a Challenge for Long-Term Care Providers

During this critical time, Home Health Care News remains committed to bringing you all the essential news related to home-based care operations. At the same time, we also recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to our regular content, we’ll continue to highlight industry-related developments and mitigation strategies in this rolling bulletin.

What you need to know from Thursday through Sunday (July 2-5)

— The rolling seven-day average for daily new cases in the U.S. reached a record high for the 27th day in a row on Sunday, according to The Washington Post. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations rose to their highest levels to date in Arizona and Nevada.

— A well-known advocacy group for home health aides for disabled and elderly New Yorkers is taking issue with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s claim that nursing home patients are safer being in congregant settings than they would be at home.

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— The economic recession triggered by COVID-19 has been particularly impactful to home-based care workers in Minnesota, reports the Star Tribune.

— 56% of nursing homes and assisted living communities say that lab processing is the top barrier for access to testing, according to a new survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. Nearly 90% of nursing homes and assisted living communities say obtaining test results back from the lab companies is taking two days or longer.

— The governor of Rhode Island unveiled a $25 million plan to expand home-based care options as the state “continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19 in congregate living facilities.”

What you need to know from Wednesday (July 1):

— Many senior housing communities are starting to accept new admissions. Even so, occupancy rates continue to trend downward, though not as sharply as April or May, according to The Wall Street Journal. In all likelihood, the senior housing space faces a long road to recovery, especially as more Americans turn to aging in place.

— Nearly 42% of home health agencies reported serving actively infected COVID-19 patients in March, according to an initial survey conducted by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). In a new follow-up survey, about 64% of home health agencies reported serving COVID-19 patients in May, with 82.4% agencies in the “hot spots” of New York and New Jersey actively serving COVID-19 patients. HHCN had additional survey findings here.

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— The coronavirus is spreading far too quickly to contain, according to Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Schuchat touched on ongoing containment concerns in a Monday conversation with The Journal of the American Medical Association.

— As the nation experiences record numbers of new cases, multiple states and localities are pressing the pause button on reopening plans, The New York Times reports. Jackson Memorial, Miami’s largest public hospital, announced it will soon stop elective surgeries except for those deemed urgent, perhaps affecting home health providers in the area.

What you need to know from Tuesday (June 30)

— Of the $659 billion allocated by Congress, more than $100 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money remains unclaimed. Business owners and other experts argue PPP isn’t living up to its full potential because it came with too many hurdles for small businesses interested in applying.

— Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says the number of new infections in the U.S. could reach 100,000 per day if the country fails to contain the current surge. “We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day,” Fauci said during a Tuesday Senate hearing. “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned.”

— CMS announced multiple leadership appointments, including naming a new chief medical officer. The agency had been without an official CMO since Dr. Kate Goodrich left for Humana in March.

What you need to know from Monday (June 29):

— Ground ambulance companies are taking a financial hit amid COVID-19. Paramedics have been treating an increasing number of people at home, rather than taking them to the hospital, where bed shortages and transmission risks exist. However, CMS isn’t paying them to do so; it only reimburses medically necessary services if the organization is also transporting the patient to a hospital or other designation. Paramedics are calling for a rule change.

— More states are walking back their reopening plans as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. Most recently, California followed suit with Texas and Florida, closing bars in seven counties across the state. Compared to last week, only two states are seeing a decline in cases reported.

— As employees across the country prepare to go back to work, employers are trying to figure out what that will look like. About 94% of large employers say they’re altering workspaces for social distancing, while 64% say they’re placing a bigger focus on social determinants of health in response to recent social upheaval. That’s according to a poll by the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH). Meanwhile, companies are split on whether they’ll consider implementing on-site COVID-19 testing.

— Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN that “the window is closing” for the country to get control of the COVID-19 emergency. Although the U.S. makes up only about 4% of the world’s population, it accounts for about 25% of all reported COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

For daily updates from the week of June 22, click here.

For daily updates from the week of June 15, click here.

For daily updates from the week of June 8, click here.

For daily updates from the week of June 1, click here.

For daily updates from the week of May 26, click here.

For daily updates from the week of May 18, click here.

For daily updates from the week of May 11, click here.

For daily updates from the week of May 4, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 27, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 20, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 13, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 6, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 30, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 23, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 16, click here.

HHCN encourages you to reach out to us individually or at Editor@HomeHealthCareNews.com for story ideas, tips or general feedback.